Pictured at the launch, from left, Hosea Machuki, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), FPEAK; Dr. Esther Kimani, Managing Director, PCPB; Harsama Kello, Ag Director General, AFA; Benjamin Tito, Director, HCD; Wambui Mbarire, CEO, RETRAK; Cyprian Kabbis, CEO, Bureau Veritas; Kagwiria Koome, Manager, Food Initiative, The Rockefeller Foundation and Okisegere Ojepat, CEO, FPC.
It is anticipated that the adoption of the mark of quality will enhance food safety, food quality and also facilitate sustainable market access through retail outlets
The horticulture industry has unveiled the mark of quality for the KS1758 Horticulture Industry – Code of practice to scale up compliance with issues dealing with plant health, food safety, worker health and safety and environmental management for horticulture in Kenya.
The mark of quality is part of a campaign to ensure all actors in the sector follow laid-down procedures for responsible production and its handling at every point of the value chain. The mark of quality was unveiled in Nairobi at a ceremony graced by the Director General, Agriculture and Food Authority, Mr. Kello Harsama
Speaking at the unveiling, Benjamin Tito, Director of Horticultural Crops Directorate (HCD) said “Consumers have become more aware of potential food hazards and are demanding safe food. The unveiling of the horticulture quality mark sets the stage to guarantee consumers safe fruits and vegetables.
“The Kenya government, together with the stakeholders in the horticulture industry will continue to do everything possible to ensure that the Kenyan horticultural produce is safe, and meets the highest quality standards set by the market for both domestic and international market.” he said.
Leading the mark of quality awareness campaign is the Retail Traders Association Kenya (RETRAK), who are piloting implementation of KS1758 Part 2: Fruits and Vegetables in Nairobi, Mombasa and Machakos counties. The campaign will be widened across the country and targets major actors involved in the trade of fruits and vegetables — namely, farmers, aggregators, middlemen, transporters, packers, retailers, wholesalers, local authorities and regulators.
Its development was done as a joint initiative bringing together various institutions, from both the private and public sectors. These include the Horticultural Crops Directorate (HCD), the Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya (FPEAK), the Kenya Flower Council (KFC), the Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya, (FPC Kenya), the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS), the Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), the Pest Control Products Board (PCPB), Solidaridad, the Retail Trade Association of Kenya (RETRAK), and the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KeBS). This initiative received support from Rockefeller Foundation.
About the Mark of Quality
Only Horticultural produce which has complied to the KS1758 National Horticulture Standard, now benchmarked with other international standards – will bear this mark of quality. It guarantees the consumer that the produce meets all the requirements of the code of practice – including fruits and vegetables. Whether purchased at supermarkets, kiosk or at the roadside, the consumer will be able to identify KS1758 certified produce. It is anticipated that the adoption of KS1758 will enhance food safety, food quality and also facilitate sustainable market access through the retail outlets.
FPEAK has been contracted by RTI International, which manages the USAID-funded programme Kenya Crops and Dairy Market Systems (KCDMS) to roll out KS1758 Part 2 in 12 counties. These are Kakamega, Busia, Vihiga, Bungoma, Siaya, Migori, Kisumu, Kisii, Homa Bay, Makueni, Kitui, Taita Taveta counties, where KCDMS runs its programmes. The Kenya Government is collaborating with KCDMS to revamp the national traceability system, a tool that will enhance transparency, integrity and accountability of food operators in the value chain.
The horticulture industry is among the fastest growing sub-sector in the agriculture sector employing over 6.5 million people directly and indirectly, making it a major employer in the country. Horticulture exports have increased in earnings from Ksh83 billion in 2013 to KSh150 billion in 2020 with the flower sector contributing 71% of the total earnings of horticulture. The domestic value of horticulture has risen by 22% between 2015 and 2019, injecting Ksh268 billion into the economy, up from KSh209 billion in 2015.
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